Property tax abatement program under fire

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - An effort to draw more homeowners within Cincinnati city limits is causing concern for Hamilton County's tax auditor. Dusty Rhodes says the abatement program for new and renovated homes is unfair to other taxpayers.

The program allows a ten year tax abatement on eligible properties up to $300,000, but Rhodes says the program is a bad idea.

"At its very heart I question the wisdom of bribing people to live someplace," said Rhodes.

Rhodes also says the program isn't fair to all taxpayers.

"It is a free ride and they're not paying taxes a yet they're getting services...and that bothers me at some level," he said. "I understand the need for economic development, but we've carried it to extremes."

In just the past four years the city has abated more than 1800 properties worth some $324 million in taxes.  However, abatement supporters like City Councilman Wayne Lippert say the program works to keep more people in the city.

"If we don't have a healthy urban core...and this program is an important part of that urban core...we risk more flight to the suburbs and loss of taxpayers so its important," said Lippert.

Council woman Laure Quinlivan says the program is necessary.

"I think its really smart for a city to provide incentives to get people to live here and we do that and I think it's a good program," she said. "We need to keep as many people in the city as possible so we increase our tax base and don't lose any more citizens."

Quinlivan says the city also has a tax abatement program for building "green" energy efficient buildings.

"Cincinnati has a very progressive tax incentive for people who build green," she said. "If you build a green building to LEED standards...that's a national standard you can get 15 years of tax abatement."

Quinlivan is taking advantage of the green tax abatement herself after renovating her home.

"I've never lived in a new house, but its a great feeling to be in a house that's not only new, but energy efficient, I'm saving on utilities plus I get a tax abatement," she said.

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